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The West Virginia Post-Mortem

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2016 ended with a sour taste.

West Virginia v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Senior day did not go well for the Cyclones on Saturday. West Virginia came in and took down Iowa State 49-19. The offense struggled in the red zone and the defense gave up big plays all day. About the only thing that went right was the special teams play.

Things do look good for the 2017 season, but that is a topic for another day. Let’s look at what went right on Saturday and what went wrong.

What Went Right

Iowa State’s special teams were firing on all cylinders, highlighted by Kene Nwangwu’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. In case you missed it, here it is again.

The Cyclone kickoff return unit has been close to breaking one all season. Finally, in the last game of the year, they were able to do so. It’s a token of success they can take into the offseason and build on for next year. Look for Nwangwu to be back returning kicks next season.

Another nice piece of special teams was how Cole Netten finished off his solid ISU career. He finished 4/4 on the day and was the point machine for Iowa State, scoring 12 of the Cyclones’ 19 points himself.

On offense, David Montgomery continued to impress in his freshman season. He had 21 carries for 141 yards and was the most consistent part of the offense all day. Montgomery showed us he deserves to be the featured back for the Cyclones next season.

Finally, Jacob Park had a solid day yardage wise, throwing for 371 yards through the air.

What Went Wrong

Too many things to count.

Let’s start with red zone offense. Iowa State reached the red zone 4 times, but could only get field goals on the board. There were times they didn’t execute their plays correctly and one time a questionable chop block penalty took away a Joel Lanning touchdown. Turn some of those field goals into touchdowns and Iowa State is in the game to the end.

The passing offense was not quite as efficient as it had been in previous games. Park had a quarterback rating of 40 and completed just a tick over 50% of his passes. The performance was a small chink in the armor on an otherwise positive first season in Ames.

The defensive issues that plagued Iowa State earlier in the season resurfaced. Depth in the front seven was the most glaring issue. Past the starters, Iowa State’s ability to make stops seemed far and few between. I elaborated on this in 3 Things We Learned, but to compete with high tempo offenses, the ability to rotate high level players in and out is something that will be needed for Matt Campbell’s time in Ames to be successful. However, we knew this is something that wasn’t going to happen right away, and maybe not even next season. Depth is something that is built over multiple years.

In closing, the lack of depth lead to major execution flaws and the score reflected that in the end.

Report Card

Offense: C-

Defense: C-

Special Teams: A+

There are many things for the coaching staff to look back on from a season standpoint and build on for next year. Iowa State was just a few plays away from being a bowl team this season. Look for a much better product on the field next season for ISU.

Next year’s season opener is September 2nd against the pesky Northern Iowa Panthers. We doubt Coach Campbell will take them lightly in round 2.